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Museums, Exhibitions & Visitor Centres

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Caithness Museums & Visitor Centres

Museums & Visitor Centres News

Halkirk Heritage And Vintage Motor Society Latest
Caithness Horizons  New Centre In Planning For Thurso

The Seadrift Centre - Dunnet
Ranger Visitor Centre at Dunnet

Castle Of Mey Castle open to public - Mey

Castletown Heritage

William Smith Founder Boys Brigade Centre - Thurso

Waterlines  Fishing theme and cafe - Lybster

Archie Sinclair Fossil Centre  Set in local hall - Spittal

Clan Gunn Heritage Centre & Museum  - Latheron

Heritage Society  Local museum - Thurso
Closed until the new Caithness Horizons project opens with a new centre at Thurso Town Hall at end of 2007

Forsinard Nature Reserve  RSPB  - Fordsinard

Laihay Preservation Trust  Crofthouse - Dunbeath

Mary Ann's Cottage A house left as it was - Dwarwick

Wick Heritage Centre - biggest museum in the north

Dunbeath Heritage Centre - Unusual centre

North Highland Archive - Family History and more - Wick

Viking Centre  Interesting artefacts and info - Auckengill
Closed and will re-open as the new Broch Centre in 2009

Last House Museum  Wartime and local - John O'Groats

St Fergus Gallery - Exhibitions - Wick

Swanson Gallery - Exhibitions - Thurso

Castletown Heritage -
No museum but occasional exhibitions staged

Yarrows Heritage Trust

Sutherland Museums & Visitor Centres
Brora Museum  Strathnaver Museum - Bettyhill
Strathnaver Museum

Timespan Visitor Centre - Helmsdale

See Also
Caithness Archaeology
Museum Links & News

9 May 09
Highlands and Islands Museums Forum Museum Directory Launched
The Highlands and Islands Museums Forum (HIMF) worked in partnership with the Highland Council to organise 'The Past Presents' on May 4th at the Highland Folk Museum Newtonmore especially for Show Scotland 2009 weekend. The event, which was free and open to all, officially launched HIMF's new directory. The booklet contains information from over 25 museums and archives in the Highland region. It has been produced to promote museum collections, exhibitions and activities during this The Year of Homecoming. The project has been supported by The Highland Council and Museums and Galleries Scotland. For Caithness Wick Heritage Museum and North Highland Archive based at Wick Library are included in the new guide.

December 08
The History Of Caithness Comes Alive At Thurso Town Hall
On Monday 1st December 2008 Caithness Horizons reopened the magnificently restored Thurso Town Hall and Carnegie Library to the public. The new museum and community facility has not only captured the past and brought it to life through displays and interpretation, it also provides a real flavour of Caithness today to tempt visitors to find out more about this diverse county. Following the opening by Margaret, Viscountess Thurso of Ulbster, visitors had their first chance to look around the facility, which explores the archaeology and history of the area, the geology and ecology, the wildlife, flowers and fauna, our need for fuel and energy and a sustainable future. The building is also home to tourist information, temporary exhibitions and displays, educational projects, audio-visual presentation facilities and a café.
Caithness Horizons Photos

The new facility is open 7 days a week - Monday to Saturday 10.00am - 8.00pm Sunday 11.00am - 4.00pm
Caithness Horizons Web Site

8 February 08
Multi-Million Pound National Nuclear Archive To Be Based At Wick

The Nuclear Decommissioning Agency has announced that it will invest £8 million in plans to create the UK’s National Nuclear Archive (NNA) at Wick, Caithness, Scotland. The NNA will potentially hold between 20 and 30 million digital records primarily concerning the history, development and decommissioning of the UK’s civil nuclear industry since the 1940s. The money will be invested over three years and will help get the £17 million project off the ground. The NNA is being proposed in response to the NDA’s statutory obligation to manage public records, keeping them safe and making them more accessible to the public. Around 20 specialist jobs will be created by the project and the building will also provide a new home for the Wick-based North Highland Archive, which is much in need of additional storage space.

26 January 08
Dounreay Heritage To Be Preserved
He might not think so today, but future generations could regard James Gunn as the most important person ever to work at Dounreay. For the former chemist and project manager has taken up a new part-time role as the site's first heritage officer. His role is to preserve aspects of the site that will give future generations a glimpse of life at Dounreay when the site itself has long gone. Later this month, James will commission consultants to draw up the site's first heritage strategy. An important and headline-grabbing part of the strategy will be about whether to scrap the contaminated DFR sphere as part of the site clean-up and demolition. But James says there is a lot more to the site's heritage than just a giant steel ball.

18 November 07
Castlehill Heritage Centre Opens

The long held aspirations of Castletown Heritage Society to create a multi-purpose exhibition and vernacular skills centre were finally realised today when Lord Maclennan of Rogart performed the official Opening Ceremony at the Castlehill Heritage Centre.

A large audience of invited guests and visitors turned out to hear Chairwoman Muriel Murray explain how the Centre had been developed through the hard work and dedication of Society members, friends and supporters, including a number of local contractors and suppliers. She also thanked the various organisations who lent financial support, either directly (Highland 2007 Community Fund and Lottery Fund Awards for All) or in kind (UKAEA Dounreay, Invisible Heating Supplies and Caithness Stone Industries) through the generous donation of materials.

In his speech, Lord Maclennan paid tribute to the vision and dedication of the Society, who's drive and enthusiasm had been recognised as a leading inspiration for the North Highland Initiative.

A key feature of the opening ceremony was the launch of Castletown and the Sea - an exhibition exploring the fascinating relationship between Castletown and the Parish of Olrig and the sea - the Viking landings, the export of Flagstone from Castlehill Harbour to as far afield as Argentina, India and Australia, local heroes of the high seas, fishing, the many ships that foundered in the area, wartime events and more.

In declaring the centre open Lord Maclennan reflected that the content of the exhibition demonstrated the adaptabilty and resourcefulness of the local population throughout history to the present day.

The exhibition and Heritage Centre will be open from 1pm to 3pm every Saturday and Sunday over the winter and other times by arrangement.
Castletown Heritage Web Site

4 September 07
Work Starts on £4 Redevelopment of Thurso Town Hall

Works gets underway today (Tuesday 4 September 2007) on the £4 million redevelopment of Thurso Town Hall to create a first class visitor centre, museum and community resource. A 52-week contract has been awarded to O'Brien Construction Ltd by Caithness Horizons, a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, which was formed to take forward the exciting project. The buildings will remain in the ownership of The Highland Council, who are one of the main funders of the project. Chairman of Caithness Horizons, Paul Cariss, said: "A lot of hard work has gone into getting this project to this advanced stage and we are indebted to all the funders for their support. The centre promises to deliver an outstanding facility, which will benefit the local community and visitors to the area." Caithness councillors are delighted at the support given by the Council to the project, which amounts to £1.8m.

3 August 07
Caithness Horizons is delighted to announce that after securing additional funding from its partners and HIE Caithness & Sutherland, Highland Council has awarded the contract for the main construction work to refurbish Thurso Town Hall to local firm O’Brien Construction Ltd. O’Brien’s expect to start work in the building early September.

The combined museum, visitor and community centre is scheduled to open in the autumn of 2008, during the off-peak tourist season. This will allow the company to concentrate on the range of community uses proposed for the new facility and to establish the flexible temporary exhibition areas for the use of local organisations and groups.

Caithness Horizons Chairman Paul Cariss, welcomed the significant progress being made and said: “After a long period of preparation I’m pleased that the major building work will now commence and that a local business has acquired the work.

”The project promises to deliver an outstanding facility which will benefit both the local community and visitors to the area. Caithness has a fascinating history and story to tell and Caithness Horizons will help to promote the many attractions that as yet are relatively undiscovered.”

Behind the scenes the company has been working non-stop to develop crucial business policies such as IT and communication plans, a pre and post-opening marketing strategy, job descriptions for staffing positions, and to secure local business sponsorship. Cataloguing of the museum artefacts continues and Edinburgh based company Circa Media has been appointed to develop the audio visual presentation that visitors will receive by way of an introduction on their arrival.

The Highland Council Convener Sandy Park, and Chief Executive Alistair Dodds recently visited the Town Hall building and held useful discussions with Paul Cariss on the project progress and the refurbishment plans.

Councillor Park said: "As owners of this historic building, we are delighted to have been able to play our part in bringing this exciting project to fruition. This will establish Thurso as a visitor destination in its own right and act as a signpost to other attractions in the area. It is also an important early flagship project in the regeneration of Caithness and North Sutherland in the wake of the decommissioning of Dounreay."

The new museum store is due to open in Princes Street, Thurso this month and the Caithness Horizons Collections Trust is continuing to attract new members who will be responsible for preserving the collection for visitors and the community to enjoy for years to come.

For further details of the project see the website at: http://www.caithnesshorizons.co.uk/

24 July 07
Seadrift Centre At Dunnet Officially Opened
Seadrift, the visitor centre at Dunnet that focuses on the natural heritage of the north coast of Caithness was officially opened to the public on Monday 23rd July by Councillor Drew Hendry, Highland Council's Chairman of Planning Environment and Development Committee. Managed by The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service, "Seadrift" is the new name for the recently refurbished visitor centre. The centre has seen a complete makeover with £100,000 funding from The Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, LEADER+ and HIE Caithness and Sutherland. Located at Dunnet sands about one mile from the village of Dunnet, Seadrift visitor centre, is also used as a base for Highland Council's Rangers.

21 June 07
Halkirk Heritage Ready For Another Season
Opens 27th June until 16th August

The star attraction will be a very rare vintage motorcycle (1917 new imperial) kindly loaned by John Bremner, Halkirk. The motorcycle is part of the fantastic collection of John’s late grandfather, John A. Bremner, West End, Castletown. The Halkirk vintage motor enthusiasts have put together another vast display of car artefacts for your viewing pleasure. For a village the size of Halkirk, the quality and quantity of vintage motor vehicles and memorabilia is truly amazing. It is no wonder that motor enthusiasts from all over the UK are green with envy when they see what is tucked away in various local garages. Many new photos and other artefacts will be on show for the first time this year......

27 March 07
Planned return of Viking treasures to Caithness
Three local firms are expected to tender for the building work required to refurbish Thurso Town Hall in preparation for the opening of the Caithness Horizons visitor and community centre in spring 2008.  Caithness Horizons Board, meeting on 7th March, was told that Highland Council staff issued the invitation to tender for the work last month. Tenders are due to be returned shortly.

Caithness Horizons Chairman Paul Cariss welcomed the progress made.  “Getting the building work underway after a long period of preparation will mark an important step forward for the project,” Paul commented.  “I am particularly pleased to hear that local firms are in the running.”

The Board was joined by trustees of Caithness Horizons Collections Trust for part of their meeting.  The original trustees, representing the Highland Council, Thurso Heritage Society and UKAEA Dounreay, have now been joined by John Flett of Wick Heritage Centre and Muriel Murray of Castletown Heritage Society, and the Trust has joined the Scottish Museums Council as an associate member.

Museum adviser for the project Estelle Quick is hoping to obtain a number of Viking objects on loan from the National Museums of Scotland for display in Caithness Horizons.  Estelle said: “These objects include important and beautiful personal possessions from local Viking burials, such as brooches, combs and pins.  It will be wonderful if we are able to bring them back to the county in the future.”

Caithness Horizons will also benefit from the addition of a unique local shell collection to its display material.  Mrs Sylvia Meiklejohn of Thurso, has offered her late husband Robbie’s collection to the new Thurso centre.  Estelle commented: “We are very grateful for Mrs Meiklejohn’s generous offer.  The collection is extensive, in excellent condition, and well documented.  It will complement the Robert Dick collection of local botany, which will be a key exhibit in Caithness Horizons’ collection.”

Meanwhile, Dounreay’s Visitor Centre has closed a year earlier than planned, after the old RAF control tower in which it is housed suffered serious weather damage over the winter.  This makes it all the more important for the far north tourist industry that Caithness Horizons is on schedule to open next spring, providing a shop window for the many other visitor attractions to be found in the area.

9 March 07
Dounreay Visitor Centre Will Not Open In 2007
Old age and severe weather have taken their toll on the seasonal visitor centre at Dounreay. The former World War Two air traffic control tower was damaged during severe flooding in November.
Further deterioration in its condition over the winter months has led to its closure being brought forward. Dounreay will now concentrate on providing a new exhibition about the site decommissioning as part of a multi-million pound visitor development in Thurso - Caithness Horizons

17 February 07
Thrumster Station Project Now Underway
The former Thrumster railway station was purchased by the Yarrows Heritage Trust in 2005. The station building is the sole remaining station building on the former Wick to Lybster Light Railway which closed in 1944. The Trust have undertaken to renovate the building together with the platform and adjacent grounds. Phase 1 of the Project which is currently underway includes recreating the station platform and a short section of rail track together with tidying and landscaping of the adjacent grounds to form a public amenity area.

29 January 07
Castletown Heritage Society
Winter 2006 - 2007 Newsletter

The newsletter includes details of photos sent from Canada, details of Sinclairs from New Zealand with roots in Caithness, A weekly work night at Castlehill, looking back at events in 2006 and looking forward to Highland 2007 events.

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